AUSTIN, Texas -- I'm still worried sick. The R's have seized the news cycle! Which says more about how dim American politics are than anything I can think of.

            Apparently, the Michael J. Fox affair didn't have enough meat to it, and even Rep. Mark Foley is out of the game, so now we have the semi-hemi-demi-gaffe from John Kerry, who is not in fact running for anything.

            If Kerry had been given as many breaks for misspeaking as George W. Bush has, he'd be a professor of grammar by now. And this all shows what the Bush regime has -- attacks on Kerry, Clinton, Kennedy, Pelosi, liberals! -- not any actual policies to help them.

            The Great Wall of Republican ads is bearing down on us -- race-baiting, scare tactics and sleaze-mongering. (Who knew so many people had signed up to "promote the homosexual agenda"? I don't even know what it is. But apparently, you don't have to sign up to support -- you could be part of it and not even know!) The R's are throwing distorting ads, funded by endless money, all over the place. Can the people see that, and ignore and punish them for it?

            Aside from the Wall of Ads, we are also faced with Disenfranchisement of Democrats again. For some reason, this has come to be regarded as "one of Karl's dirty tricks" -- a clever ploy, a little hard ball, rather to be admired.

            I've covered East Texas politics for a long time. All over East Texas -- and elsewhere around the country -- there are elderly black Americans who don't have driver's licenses because they've never had a car, who can't read because they never got to third grade, and who are scared of The Law because for 70 years or better they've been oppressed by it. So if they see a sheriff's car blocking the road to the polling place and officials checking people's papers, they head the other direction.

            Voting isn't hard, and believe it or not, these elderly blacks have worked all their lives and paid into Social Security and paid taxes, and they know a lot about how government affects people.

            With pundits in Washington, who just a few weeks ago were claiming the Democrats would likely take the house by a razor-thin margin, now victoriously claiming they all along knew it would be a wipeout, I just feel that overconfidence juice starting to kick in. "Maybe 20 seats, maybe 40 seats" ... yeah. People could think: "So that's settled. I don't even really have to vote." Folks, step up and make sure there's some control on this regime.

            May I remind you what this election is about? Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, unprecedented presidential powers, unmatched incompetence, unparalleled corruption, unwarranted eavesdropping, Katrina, Enron, Halliburton, global warming, Cheney's secret energy task force, record oil company profits, $3 gasoline, FEMA, the Supreme Court, Diebold, Florida in 2000, Ohio in 2004, Terri Schiavo, stem cell research, golden parachutes, shrunken pensions, unavailable and expensive health care, habeas corpus, no weapons of mass destruction, sacrificed soldiers and Iraqi civilians, wasted billions, Taliban resurgence, expiration of the assault weapons ban, North Korea, Iran, intelligent design, swift boat hit squads, and on and on.

            This election is about that, but much more -- it's about honor, dignity and comity in this country. It's about the Constitution, which gives us this great nation. Bush ran on a pledge of "restoring honor and integrity" to the White House. Instead, he brought us Tom DeLay, Roy Blunt, Katherine Harris, John Doolittle, Jerry Lewis, Richard Pombo, Mark Foley, Dennis Hastert, David Safavian, Jack Abramoff, Ralph Reed, Karl Rove and an illegal and immoral war in Iraq. People, it's up to you.

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